Amid an intensifying political blame game over proposed reforms in Lakshadweep, the island’s collector S Asker Ali has defended the move, saying that the steps are aimed at the development and welfare of the people. Collector Ali alleged that people with vested interests are affected by the administration’s plan and are spearheading a misinformation campaign against the proposed moves. He claimed that the administration has been working for the prosperity and development of the residents. He said that people outside Lakshadweep are protesting with vested interests and propaganda. He said that it’s still peaceful in Lakshadweep.
He said that various development projects are being carried out on the island, including the expansion of the airstrip at Agatti, the upgradation of Kavaratti as a Smart City and introducing freight from Mangalore port to ensure supply of essential items on the northern end of the island.
“We’ve integrated the Island Management Plan notified in 2017 regarding island development but there was no part for implementation…To start proper development in Lakshadweep, we want to do it holistically as these islands are exotic,” said Lakshadweep Collector.
He said that the administration wants to develop Lakshadweep like the Maldives if not better. “After 75 years of Independence, development didn’t commensurate with its potential. Why Lakshadweep didn’t become the Maldives of India?” said the Collector.
Reacting to the proposal to serve liquor at resorts, he said that permission will be given only at selected tourist establishments and only for tourists. He said that the proposed anti-Goonda Act is aimed at preventing youth from getting misguided. “A few days ago, 300 kg of heroin with an international value of Rs 3,000 crore and five AK-47 rifles and 1,000 live rounds were confiscated. Many cases of illegal smuggling of marijuana, liquor and POCSO cases have been reported. The future of the youth is likely to be clouded by illegal businesses. Keeping this in mind, strict and stringent laws are needed so that youth are not misguided. People having vested interests in illegal businesses are propagating (protest) against the imposition of strict laws,” he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
On the notification regarding the ban on those with more than two children from contesting panchayat elections, the collector clarified that the rule will apply only to parents of infants born after the due date of notification.